What is tinnitus? Can it be treated? If so, how? How does the Tinnitus Relief Programme assist with this? What does the patient have to do? What are the realistic expected outcomes?
What is tinnitus?
Tinnitus is the collective name given to a set of symptoms whereby the patient hears sounds for which there is no apparent external cause. Common medical belief is that the Tinnitus sounds are created by neurons in the brain that are sending the ‘sound signal’ even when there is no external audio trigger.
Can it be treated? If so how?
Currently there is no medication or device that is guaranteed or proven to switch off the sound. Typical medical treatment is through application of specialised hearing aids (where hearing loss is a likely cause), counselling type therapy and white-noise devices designed to distract the patients attention away from the sound (Tinnitus Retraining Therapy).
It is understood that TRT (Developed by Pabel Jastroboff) allows the process of ‘habituation’ to occur – whereby the sound settles down into the background where it belongs. This may involve the process known as “neural plasticity”.
One ‘non-medical’ treatment that seems to have produced genuine positive results in helping tinnitus patients achieve this, and has been medically researched quite well, is hypnotherapy and self-hypnosis. For examples of research, please click here – Tinnitus Hypnosis Research.
How does the Tinnitus Relief Programme assist with all this?
The Tinnitus Relief Programme assists in 3 ways:
(a) It is a commonly accepted that any kind of stress seems to enhance neural activity and thereby worsen the symptoms. The Tinnitus Relief Programme teaches methods for achieving very deep states of relaxation, very quickly. In many cases, this can bring an element of relief from the sound whilst listening to the recordings or carrying out the exercises which – as per the results also achieved in the self-hypnosis trials – may then last for sometime afterwards, depending on the individual patient, and type of tinnitus.
(b) Many tinnitus patients become psychologically ‘trapped’ by the sound. Medically it has been shown the tinnitus response seems to move into the Amygdala – the emotional centre of the brain – which sets up an emotional cycle. “The more you hear the sound, the more emotional you become; the more emotional you become, the more you hear the sound”, and so on.
(i) The tinnitus relief programme assists by teaching the patient methods for interrupting this emotional cycle – as the patient learns to think differently so they have a different emotional response. With a different emotional response, the tinnitus is ‘allowed’ to habituate more easily. (Constant attention/fixation seems to prevents this).
(ii) The programme also contains a psychological exercise designed to help train the patients hearing/attention away from the internal sound of the tinnitus and and back out into the external world. The shift of attention is similar to that used in Tinnitus Retraining Therapy (TRT) mentioned earlier, but using 3d holophonic sounds instead of plain white noise.
(iii) Modern medical research has shown that the neurons of the brain are ‘plastic’ in that they are able to change form or function. This is known as neural plasticity. Further research has shown that in some cases patients are able to consciously influence this process and stimulate neurons to take over the tasks of damaged ones. In tinnitus patients this can mean the brain ‘rewiring itself’ so that the sound is no longer heard. Much research and evidence for this is cited in Norman Doidges book, “The Brain That Changes Itself”.
The tinnitus relief programmes assists by discussing this phenomena and introducing the patient to a variety of techniques that have been used by patients in the past, from stroke recovery to tinnitus.
(c) Although many cases of tinnitus seem to be brought on by physical causes – hearing loss, infection, nerve damage, etc., there seem to be a large number of cases where stress, trauma or upset is the trigger. In these cases, tackling or resolving the trauma, seems to have the effect of releasing the patient from the associated physical symptom.
The Tinnitus Relief Programme assists by discussing this phenomena in detail and providing exercises and techniques for exploring this.
What does the patient have to do?
The patient has to set aside about 30 minutes a day for about ten days, initially. During this time the patient will listen to recordings, no more than one a day, in order to become familiar with the exercises.
The patient is then required to repeat the exercises over the next few weeks, ideally once a day at least, but as is appropriate to the patients daily schedule. Then use as required for the following month or so.
There are also a few short written exercises to help establish the most effective way of implementing the audio training.
What are the realistic expected outcomes?
The realistic expected outcomes will vary from person to person, depending upon the type of tinnitus, the personality of the patient and how much they are willing to put into this.
A person who rushes through looking for a miracle cure will most likely be disappointed. A person who works through the exercises as instructed and puts their time and energy into this can expect some or all of the following:
(i) The ability to feel calmer and more in control, even while the symptoms persist.
(ii) The ability to experience moments of apparent reduction or relief – whether through actual reduction of sound, or as a result of distraction/habituation.
(iii) The ability to habituate so that the sound begins to fade back into the background where it belongs.
It is important to understand that results and time-scales will vary from person to person.
If you wish to access the Tinnitus Relief Programme for yourself, you can do so by clicking here.
For more information on specifics of the programme itself, please click here.